Friday, 25 July 2014

Blue Is The Warmest Colour: DVD Review

Blue Is The Warmest Colour: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Ent

It won the Palme D'Or at Cannes this year, garnered divisive word of mouth and then promptly disappeared amid talk the director wasn't happy with the cut and wanted to clean it up.

Now, with 3 hours and 7 minutes under its belt, Blue Is The Warmest Colour emerges for a fully-fledged small screen release after discussions of the gruelling set conditions its stars had to endure.

Exarchpoulos stars as Adele, a 15 year old art student, living with her parents in a grey and overcast French town. She's trying to find her place in the world and despite hooking up with a senior who's the boy everyone wants, she's not happy. A fleeting glimpse of a blue haired girl throws her into a daze and she can't stop thinking of her - so, Adele sets out to the gay clubs to find the girl, Emma (played by Lea Seydoux).

Eventually the pair meet and Adele's thrown into a world of self-discovery, sexual awakening and a chance to come of age. But the path to true love and happiness is never an easy one as time weaves back and forth in this tale.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour is an interesting, if over-long story with some interesting narrative choices but some decisions which leave you scratching your head.

The film's already gained notoriety for its 10 minute long sex scene between Adele Exarchpoulos and Lea Seydoux that leaves nothing to the imagination - and neither does the camera, as it almost drools over the naked writhing flesh of the pair, lingering in close ups and perhaps giving you more of a sense of voyeurism than any real tenderness. (Though Kechiche spends a lot of the film focusing on close ups of his actors - maybe a bit too much time - which gives it an alarming lack of intimacy)

Elsewhere, the story is fine - though an expeditious edit in places of the script and the final cut could have substantially helped. In terms of the coming of age of Adele, it's exactly the story you'd expect - girl finds love, girl finds jealousy, girl makes mistakes and tries to atone for them - there's nothing inspiringly original here on that front.

Some of the problems come with characters brought in and simply used once before being dismissed - Adele's friends who form an important start of the first 30 minutes are dispensed with when their need is done. Worst though, is the use of the parents. Initially they're brought into symbolise a cultural difference and naive innocence between Adele and Emma; with Adele being unaware of oysters and trying them at Emma's house (oh, the lack of subtlety and overt subtext) during one repaste. When the meal favour is returned at Adele's, she tries simpler food and her parents are unaware of her sexual leaning - a dramatic tension that's strongly hinted at and dropped without warning. Frustrations like this come and go during the three hour run.

What is impressive though is Adele Exarchpoulos as the doe-eyed naif; she makes the large part of her journey and awakening feel real and heartbreaking when it counts; likewise, to a lesser degree Seydoux convinces as the blue haired Emma, who's more sure of herself and knows what she wants.

Blue is the Warmest Colour has its highs and narrative lows; while it captures the heartbreaking realities of coming of age nicely in some parts, the director's choices and at times meandering narrative unfortunately make the three hour paean to love an at times hard slog, but nevertheless rewarding because of its strong central performances.


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